Category Archives: Neighbors

The Sounds of Peace

On the Friday after the World Trade Center fell, I was in Geneva, Switzerland, attending what was billed as a “silent” march.  Citizens of the world came together there in Geneva to show solidarity with we devastated Americans.  We walked la Place des Naçions, through the area of Geneva that is home to a dozen or so international organizations.  Organizations that promote peace, international cooperation, and help for our fellow man.

United Nations, Geneva Switzerland.  (Google Image)

United Nations, Geneva Switzerland.
(Google Image)

That day, people from every country on the planet, it seemed, marched to show their opposition to the hatred that attacked America and destroyed the towers.

Flags of the United Nations, Geneva (Google Image)

Flags of the United Nations, Geneva
(Google Image)

But it was anything but the “silent” march planned.  Instead, I was surrounded by thousands of voices, speaking in sympathy, in harmony, in defiance of evil.  The voices spoke in a thousand languages in righteous anger and solidarity.

It was the sound of peace.

I hadn’t heard that sound of peace again until last night.

Sometimes I forget that some of my ancestors came from other lands with other languages.  Sometimes we all forget that we are a nation of immigrants.  A nation that was built on the blood, sweat, tears and dreams of people from everywhere.

But we should never do that.  There are things we as Americans can never forget.  And the sound of voices singing one of our most cherished American songs, in whatever language they speak, and with whomever they love, is one of the most positive things that we should never forget.

 

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Filed under History, Humor, Neighbors, Taking Care of Each Other

The Anniversary

I can’t add anything to what the President says here:

 

The residents of Sandy Hook are reluctant to have a crazy media-fueled circus in their town on the anniversary.  Rather, people there are encouraging each of us to offer small acts of kindness to others.

It is a good idea today.  It is a good idea this season.  It is a good idea all year long.

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Elections, Gun control, Health and Medicine, History, Law, Mental Health, Neighbors, Taking Care of Each Other, Voting

Lucky

John and I agree on many, if not most, important things in life.

But we have very different feelings about squirrels.  He hates them and often tries to chase them off.  He runs out of the family room door, waving his arms to shoo them off.

I’m pretty sure our squirrels are baffled by John.  On the one hand, he puts out a delicious smorgasbord for them every single day.  On the other, he runs out, waving his arms in the air, as if warning them of an alien invasion.

“Humans!”  they twitter to each other.  “Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without em!”

Me, I find squirrels so entertaining and so clever, that, well, I just can’t begrudge them some bird seed.  Or most of the bird seed.  I realize that from time to time we have to replace the expensive squirrel-proof bird feeders that they cleverly open, empty and render completely useless.  Then there is the $4.2 billion we spend annually on birdseed instead of the $1.38 we would spend if we only had birds at our buffet.

Yes, a large number of squirrels enjoy E&J’s all-you-can-eat buffet.  If you’re a squirrel at our house, you’re “In with the ‘In-Crowd.’”

Anyway, about two months ago, John walked into the kitchen from the Dining Room where he has been throwing papers around since our dog Cooper got too old to go upstairs to John’s real office where he used to throw his paper.  And John saw a squirrel drinking out of our bird bath.

He started towards the door to do his arm-waving routine, when he stopped.  Because John saw that something else was going to chase the squirrel away!

Another animal came up onto our little deck, and headed towards the squirrel.  A fox!

Google Image

Google Image

The fox lunged at the unsuspecting squirrel, and they both disappeared into the hedge.  Only one of them was ever seen again.

Meet Lucky:

Photo Credit:  ME!

Photo Credit: ME!
(Yeah, it was an incredibly Lucky shot!)

Or maybe we should call him “Sorta Lucky.”

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Filed under Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Family, Humor, Neighbors

Because You Never Can Tell With Some People

It wasn’t something John and I thought about right off the bat. Nope, there were other more obvious and urgent ways to protect that new baby we’d been lucky enough to adopt.

In fact, we didn’t actually worry about Jacob playing in a house with guns until he was, actually, playing in a house with guns and he was out of our sight.

It was a day or so before we were to leave Connecticut and move back to the DC area.  Our neighbors, the Planters, had us over for a good-bye dinner. It was John, me, Linda and Paul, their two grown daughters and their significant others. The eldest daughter, Jade, had a daughter Juniper, who was Jacob’s age.

All was well for a while. They were nice people. Linda had retired from an insurance company and and divided her time between cooking and playing classical piano.We could hear it whenever the windows were open, all summer long.   She was quite good. Paul was a upper end contractor.  He was also a hunter.

For some reason that I have conveniently forgotten and  for which John will never forgive me, I brought up guns and gun control at one point during dinner. It was then that I learned that our soon to be former neighbors believed that they needed an arsenal to fight off the ” black booted” thugs from the government. The US government. Black helicopters. They thought that the 2nd Amendment guaranteed that he could have any weapon that he government had. Including nukes.

Huh?

It was at about that time that I realized that Jacob and Juniper were downstairs. They were being supervised by another relative, so I hadn’t been concerned.  But the discussion made me a little uneasy.

I knew there were guns in the house, but I no longer felt quite comfortable that these folks were reasonable. I didn’t know where the guns were, whether they were locked away, or left leaning against the wall somewhere accessible to my 4 year old son.

*     *     *

That was the last time for many years that I didn’t ask about guns in the home of anyone Jacob played with.  Even when the parents seemed like they didn’t fear the guv’ment.  Even when they seem like normal folks.  Liberals, even.

It is incredibly awkward to ask people if they have guns in their house — akin to saying “excuse me, are you an irresponsible parent who would endanger your own child(ren) as well as mine?”

Still, I had to ask. Every time Jacob went someplace new for many years.

I did it by lying through my teeth.  To new friends and acquaintances.  I shamelessly blamed my husband:

“I have the most overprotective husband” I would sigh.  He made me promise to ask everyone before letting Jacob go play … You don’t have guns in your house, do you?  Arsenic?  Nukes?” I’d laugh, and the other mother or father would laugh too.

And then they’d answer.

“No, of course not,” was generally the answer.  And then I was comfortable letting my son go to their house.

One time, though, I did get a “yes, we have guns in our house” answer.  I was surprised. You will be shocked to know that I kept an open mind.

That time, my friend Suzanne invited me and Jacob over, and took me down to her basement and showed me where her husband kept his hunting rifles. In a locked, secure gun safe.

If I had learned that the person had guns and did not secure them, their kid would have been welcome to play at our house any old time.  But my son would not have been allowed to play there.  Nope.  Not a chance.  It is simple common sense.

Guns+Kids=Tragedy

Naturally, I felt bad for blaming John.  Oh who am I kidding.  No I didn’t.  It was much less awkward, doing it that way — it made the other parents feel less threatened, less like I thought they were crazy, irresponsible, folks who wanted to kill children.  With my way, well, I had the comfortable knowledge that my kid wouldn’t become a statistic. It was worth sacrificing John’s pride for peace of mind. Especially because he still doesn’t know I did it.

Friday, June 21st is “Ask About Guns Day,” sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Because all too often pediatricians are called on to try to save children who are hurt by guns.  They know that asking can save lives.

ASK.  Because you don’t want your kid (or grandkid or really any kid) knockin’ on heaven’s door, do you?  I just had to ask.

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Filed under Family, Gun control, Health and Medicine, Neighbors

Appreciation

For a while, I’ve kind of wondered why the issue of gun sanity makes me so, well, crazy mad.  More than any of the other issue I feel strongly about, this one runs the deepest in my heart.

But thanks to Lisa of Life with the Top Down who commented on my last gun control piece and told the story of her father-in-law leaving a loaded gun in a drawer where her young son found it, I figured it out.  (Lisa’s story ended happily, thankfully.)

Yes Lisa reminded me of one of my own stories.  One of my earliest memories, in fact.  A clear as a bell memory where I am inside my own head as I acted out the events.  Remembering it made me wonder if this might explain why I feel so strongly that guns should be handled, well, differently in the U.S. than they are today.

So here is my story.

It was summer, probably 1960, but maybe 1959.  I was playing in my backyard with Debbie A who lived next door.  I didn’t really like Debbie.  Nobody did.  She was argumentative and we always fought.  Everyone always fought with Debbie.  But that day, Debbie said something that made me mad.  Really, really mad.  And so I went into the house to get my Dad’s gun so I could shoot her.  I don’t remember wanting to kill her; I just wanted to shoot her.

I went into the house, past my mother who was doing dishes, watching us out the back window.  And I opened the drawer where I knew my dad kept his gun.  He had been in the Navy in WWII, and he had kept his gun.  I knew that.  I was sure of it.  And I knew exactly where it was, too.  It was in the bottom drawer in the den.  And I was gonna get it.

Dad's Gun

But I couldn’t find it anywhere.  I emptied the drawer but couldn’t find it.  I asked my brother, Fred, who tried to help me find it.  Finally I asked my mother, who told me with a laugh, “there’s no gun in this house!”

I was crushed.  Disappointed.  I really wanted to shoot Debbie.

Years later I told my Dad the story.  His eyes widened when he thought of what might have been.  Would I have accidentally shot myself?  Would I have mistakenly blown my wonderful brother away?    Would my mother have been blasted as I headed out the door to shoot Debbie?

Would I have shot Debbie?

Dad told me that he had kept his navy revolver, but only for a short while.  When my mother first got pregnant he got rid of it.  “Kids and guns don’t mix,” he said.  “That’s a recipe for disaster.” He was right.

I was 3-1/2.  What would my life have been like had I found the gun?  How many other lives would have been ended or ruined by my action?  My really delightful childhood would have been much, much different if I had murdered someone before even starting kindergarten.

So today, on “Gun Appreciation Day” I celebrate my Dad, who was a smart guy.  Thanks Dad, for protecting me (and who knows who else) from myself.  Because you were right — kids and guns don’t mix.  Trouble is, a lot of the adults who have them don’t mix well with guns, either.

This song is about fathers.   Not guns.  It is beautiful, though.  And it makes me think of my Dad and the wise choices he made that helped me navigate life.

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Criminal Activity, Family, Gun control, Neighbors, Stupidity

Fifty-Four-and-a-Half’s New Year’s Tradition

Most of our family’s traditions come from my family.  I think that’s because I’m the girl.  But our New Year’s Tradition comes from my husband.  It’s quite simple, and I’d like to share it with you.  And I will even add, Try This At Home, for good measure.

On the stroke of midnight,

Open the back door –

to force out all the BAD luck.

Open the front door –

to let in the GOOD luck.

The rest is optional, but we always:

  •  Drink a toast to the New Year.
  • Kiss anyone who happens to be nearby – especially Cooper the dog who might not be there to kiss next year.  (I wrote and posted this for New Years Eve 2011/12, and Cooper is still with us for 2012/13!)
  • Hope for all the best for all we care about in the New Year.

This year I will of course add to family and flesh friends a wish the happiest, healthiest of new years to all my blogging buddies.

 Happy New Year – may your good luck always be stronger than your bad.

***

Yup, this is a re-tread.  I will probably post it next year, too.

Last year, when I posted this tradition, some of my bloggin’ buddies worried that they weren’t going to be home — that their doors would not be available at midnight.  That they were at a party, or at someone else’s house (“Hey,” some said, “we don’t want to give THEM all the good luck!”).

Relax!

If you are out when the ball drops, or traveling or your own personal doors are unavailable to you, you have my official permission to improvise.  You can do this at Midnight in your own home; in somebody else’s, in a hotel — wherever.  Or you can wait and carry out the tradition when you get home, after you have put down your suitcase and relaxed a minute.  There is no expiration date/time stamp on it.

Traditions are what you make of them, after all.

Happy New Year!

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Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Dogs, Family, Holidays, Neighbors, Pets

Back in the Saddle

Hi everybody,

Just wanted to let you know that we were really lucky when Sandy came to visit.  She wasn’t too bitchy around my ‘hood.

Power was out for about 24 hours, but all those trees that were standing Monday morning around my house remain upright.

Thanks to everyone for your good wishes.  Let’s forward all our good thoughts and wishes on to the folks who are really dealing with some serious shit.  Because, as you know:

Blogger karma is awesome!

Good luck to anyone still hangin’ with Sandy, or cleaning up after such a rude guest.  Hope you are all safe.

And if you can, here is a link to the American Red Cross to donate to folks who are gonna need it, cause sometimes karma isn’t enough:

http://www.redcross.org/charitable-donations

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Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Climate Change, Fashion, Global Warming, Health and Medicine, Humor, Neighbors, Real Estate, Sandy, Science